A wildfire near Darrington in 2017. Photo courtesy of Northwest Washington Incident Management Team

A wildfire near Darrington in 2017. Photo courtesy of Northwest Washington Incident Management Team

National Guard could see pay bump for wildfire response

House passes bill with 94-0 vote

By Madeline Coats, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA — State representatives passed a bill in a 94-0 vote on Friday to increase the pay of National Guard members for their wildland fire response duty.

House Bill 1137 is co-sponsored by 15 bipartisan representatives and introduced by Rep. Mari Leavitt, D-Lakewood. The bill was requested by the state Military Department.

“Washington has a wildfire crisis,” said Leavitt at the floor hearing. “People are losing their property, their lands and even their lives.”

According to Leavitt, the state hit a record number of wildfires last year, resulting in 440,000 acres burned. The National Guard has been assisting in wildland fire response, stemming from the increase in fires, she explained.

The legislation aims to update the pay structure for wildland fire response so that it is equal to other state agencies handling wildfires. The director of the state Military Department would be responsible for establishing the pay structure, subject to approval by the Office of Financial Management.

“In 30 years, we have not updated the compensation statute for our National Guard members,” Leavitt said. “We are failing them.”

National guard members are paid less than minimum wage to protect our wildlands and homes, she said. HB 1137 would require pay and allowances equal to that of the United States Armed Forces or state minimum wage.

The measure was Leavitt’s first bill to be passed by the House. The companion Senate bill, SB 5196, will be considered next.

More in News

Northwest Kidney Centers patient creates dozens of scarves and hats for the homeless

Northwest Kidney Centers dialysis patient Janice Baker, 78, last summer started making… Continue reading

Legion family of Kent serves up holiday dinner to the community

Legion family of Kent serves up holiday dinner to the community

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is among supporters of statewide “just cause” legislation to protect tenants in Washington. However, some landlords say removing the ability to quickly remove tenants limits their ability to get rid of problem renters. (Courtesy image)
Tenant advocates prepare for another push in Olympia

Following wins in Burien and Federal Way, just cause evictions are on the 2020 Legislative agenda.

Puget Sound Fire photo
Chimney fire displaces family of four in Kent

A good neighbor saved a family from a damaging fire Thursday evening,… Continue reading

Street racers leaving Renton for Kent, Tukwila

Police say crackdown efforts were successful, but racers just moved across the city border

Rep. Kim Schrier. REPORTER PHOTO
Rep. Schrier’s bill to expand Medicare to get House vote next week

Congresswoman Kim Schrier, D-WA (Eighth District) on Friday announced that her bill… Continue reading

Most Read